Man Considering Driving Drunk

Penalties for a First Time DUI Offense

No one wants to be pulled over for a driving under the influence (DUI) offense. But when it happens, it can be stressful and intimidating, especially if this is the person’s first offense. It helps to know what to expect when facing a first time DUI offense in the State of Washington.

What Is a DUI?

As stated before, a DUI means driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In Washington, it is against the law to drive or be in actual physical control of a vehicle while either under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Someone can be convicted of a DUI for driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle while one or more of the following applies:

  • If the person is impaired by alcohol or drugs to the point where his or her “ability to drive a motorized vehicle is affected to an applicable degree,” which is known as DUI “affected by” or an “impairment” DUI;
  • If the person has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .08 or higher, which is known as a “per se” DUI; or
  • If the person has a concentration of five nanograms or more of THC per milliliter in his or her blood, which is known as a “per se” marijuana DUI. THC is the primary psychoactive ingredient found in marijuana.

If the individual refuses chemical testing, whether blood or breath, he or she will be found to be violating Washington State’s implied consent laws, and he or she may face a greater penalty. This is known as a DUI Refusal.

A DUI offense where the person has a BAC of .15 or higher also faces harsher consequences. Both of these factors are said to aggravate the circumstances of the DUI.

First-Time DUI Administrative Penalties

An individual facing a DUI offense will deal with penalties from the criminal justice system, as well as administrative penalties. These administrative penalties are those issued by the Washington State Department of Licensing. Some of these penalties are automatically triggered by the arrest itself. This means they happen regardless of whether the person is ever convicted of a DUI criminally. For a first-time DUI offense, the administrative penalties include:

  • Per Se Marijuana and Per Se Alcohol: Drivers who qualify for per se marijuana or alcohol offenses, meaning they have a BAC of higher than 0.08 or a THC concentration of at least five nanograms per milliliter of blood, will normally have a 90-day license suspension period.
  • Refusal to Take Chemical Test: If the driver refuses to take a chemical test, he or she will normally face a one-year administrative license suspension or revocation period.

If the driver is actually convicted of a DUI, the driver will likely be required to have an ignition interlock device (IID) installed on his or her car for a period of at least one year.

If the driver who is facing a first-time DUI had a passenger under the age of 16 years old in the car at the time of the offense, he or she will be required to have the IID installed for at least 18 months.

First-Time Criminal DUI Penalties

In addition to the administrative penalties, the defendant may also be facing criminal charges for the DUI. If convicted of a DUI, the penalties include:

  • When a driver is convicted of a per se marijuana offense, a per se alcohol offense with a BAC under 0.15 or a DUI impairment first-offense, the individual is said to be guilty of a “gross misdemeanor.” This means the person will face a penalty of one to 364 days in jail, or a period of at least 15 days of electronic home monitoring, or 90 days participation in a sobriety program. Criminal fines also can range from $550 to $5,000 in fines and fees, on top of the administrative driver’s license suspension.
  • If the driver refused to take the chemical test or tested at a BAC of 0.15 or higher, and that person is convicted of a first-time DUI, the person is also said to be guilty of a gross misdemeanor. The penalties can include two to 364 days in jail, or a period of 30 days of electronic home monitoring, 120 days in a 24/7 sobriety program, and fines and fees ranging from $700 to $5,000, on top of a driver’s license suspension of one year.

Depending on the facts of the case, it is possible the judge may order the offender to also participate and complete an educational or substance abuse treatment program.

If a minor under the age of 16 was also present at the time of the offense, the judge may impose additional jail time or increase the fines and fees imposed.

Will Jail Time Actually Happen?

Any time jail time is mentioned, stress will likely ensue. However, if jail time is a part of the sentence, how much will actually be served, if any at all?

Many times, the statute may say that a minimum sentence will be served, but some factors, such as credits for good behavior and jail-alternative programs may off-set that time that is actually served.

The defense attorney can work with the defendant to see how jail time can be reduced or even avoided, if at all possible.

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If you’ve been detained or arrested, the experienced defense attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates can help. Call today to schedule your free consultation, 855-712-7371. Ask about our military discount and convenient payment plans.

Posted in DUI
Driver arrested for DUI

What Happens After You Get a DUI?

After being pulled over for suspicion of a DUI, the person suspected of the DUI can reach a state of panic and wonder: “What is going to happen to me?” Unless a person is a regular in the criminal justice system, he or she is not likely to know what to expect when it comes to the criminal process.

Following the Arrest

After the person has been arrested, following being read their constitutional rights, the suspect will be brought to the police station where he or she will undergo a breath test. Sometimes, if the person is not capable of providing a breath test, he or she may receive a blood test.

It is possible the individual will be kept overnight and released upon certain circumstances or conditions. Sometimes, the person may be booked into jail. Alternatively, the person may be booked and released but told to return for an arraignment.

Post-Arrest Investigation

Following the arrest, if the person gave a breath test, he or she will be given a ticket showing the results. If the suspect took a blood test, it may take a couple weeks to a couple of months before those results will be processed and sent to the individual by the Washington State Toxicology Lab.

The arresting officer will be collecting additional evidence to support the case after the arrest. Criminal charges can happen immediately or within a few days following the arrest, sometimes even months.

If the officer’s report shows that enough evidence is there to charge the suspect with an official DUI charge, a complaint is filed with the court. Then the court will send the suspect a summons to appear in court, which is essentially a notice of the court date.

Arraignment

The first hearing following an arrest is called the arraignment. If the suspect is in police custody following the arrest, he or she will be brought before a judge or magistrate within 24 hours of his or her arrest and being brought into police custody. If the person is released after the arrest, a summons with the arraignment will be given at a later date.

During the arraignment hearing, the court gives the conditions of the suspect’s release. These conditions normally include following the law, a prohibition of alcohol or non-prescription drug consumption and a promise to appear at all future dates before the court.

Depending on the offense, the judge may also order the suspect to install an ignition interlock device on any car he or she drives, or to be restricted to electronic home monitoring. The judge may also determine bail.

Many factors play into setting these conditions, including the BAC level of the results, whether that person has a prior history of DUI, or whether anyone was hurt or killed in an accident connected to the DUI. The arraignment is also when the defendant will enter the official plea of not guilty or guilty, after he or she indicates whether the nature of the charges is understood.

Pre-Trial Conference

Sometime after the arraignment, a pre-trial conference will be set. This court date is for negotiations between the prosecution and defense.

Attorneys will work out any questions regarding evidence, witness availability or schedule conflicts. But most importantly, during these pre-trial conferences, attorneys will try to work out an agreement or settlement. Plea deals or offers are normally discussed at this time.

However, if negotiations are not successful, the judge will set the date for trial during the pre-trial hearing.

Hearing

If no plea agreement is reached, a hearing or trial will be held. Normally, the arresting officer is required to attend and will testify.

The defendant’s attorney will have the chance to cross-examine the officer and any other prosecution witnesses. The defense attorney will also have the chance to present the case against the DUI charges. The defense will have a chance to fight the evidence submitted, trying to poke holes in the results of any blood alcohol results.

After all evidence is presented, both sides will be able to give a final closing legal argument to support their position.

The defendant will have the option of choosing between a trial by jury or a bench trial, which means the judge is the individual making the decision. The defense attorney will be able to advise what is best depending on the circumstances. Many times, it is best to do a bench trial rather than have six jurors make the decision. Ultimately it depends on the case’s specific facts.

At the end of the trial, the jury or the judge will make the decision on whether the defendant is guilty of driving under the influence of alcohol.

Sentencing

If the defendant is convicted of the DUI charge, or even if he or she accepts a plea for a reduced charge, the next step is sentencing by the judge. The defendant will have the constitutional right to address the court if he or she believes, after advice from the defense attorney, that it will positively affect the Judge’s decision on sentencing.

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Posted in DUI
Officer pulling over man for DUI

What to Do When Pulled Over for a DUI?

No one wants to be in that situation. Driving along after having a few too many drinks, and you see it: the red and blue lights coming up from behind in the rearview mirror. For most drivers in that situation, panic immediately hits in. But panicking is actually the worst thing a driver in this situation can do.

The following tips should be kept in mind if the unthinkable happens and the driver is pulled over for a DUI.

Why Did the Officer Pull the Driver Over?

First, it should not be assumed that the driver was pulled over for driving under the influence (DUI). The officer may actually have pulled the driver over for something completely unrelated, such as failing to stop at a stop sign, failing to use a turn signal or committing any other traffic violation.

The police officer’s job at that point is to then investigate the traffic violation and also observe anything that would give rise to suspicion for a DUI, such as the driver having poor coordination, the person slurring his or her speech, the smell of alcohol, etc.

Properly Pulling Over

The officer will observe how the driver handles pulling over. As soon as the driver sees the lights and hears the police sirens, he or she needs to pull over to the right side of the road as safely as possible. If the driver is not in the far-right line and needs to get to that lane, use turn signals to indicate when changing lanes as well as when the driver plans to pull to the side of the road.

Slow the car down at a safe speed and be sure to pull over as far to the right as possible to allow the officer to be able to approach the car safely. Turn on the car’s hazard lights to indicate stopping.

Follow the Officer’s Instructions

After pulling over, turn the car off, and keep the hands on the steering wheel. If it is dark outside, be sure to turn on the car’s interior light so the officer can clearly see inside the car.

It can be tempting to start looking for the driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance, but do not do this until the officer asks. Sudden movements can give the officer reason to believe the driver could be armed. If the officer asks for this information, tell him or her where you are reaching to get the items and do so carefully.

Only get out of the car if the officer instructs the driver to do so.

Be Polite and Cooperative

Whether the police officer arrests the driver for a DUI is not within that person’s control. However, it is proven that the more polite the driver is, the less likely it is he or she will be arrested. Do not argue with the police officer and politely refuse to answer his or her questions.

Keep in mind that everything that is said to the officer at this point will be used against the driver. Therefore, it is important that the driver not speak answer any questions. The driver is only required to give the officer his or her name, driver’s license and registration. Anything above that is completely voluntary and generally self-destructive.

It is important that the driver not lie to the officer when asked a question. If a question is asked and the driver believes the answer could incriminate him or her, politely decline to answer until the driver speaks to an attorney first. Silence or asking to speak to an attorney is not an admission to guilt, but making statements that are not truthful can end up harming the person’s case more later down the line.

Field Sobriety Testing is Voluntary

Many drivers are not aware of this fact, but they can say no to field sobriety tests. Under Washington law, submitting to a field sobriety test is completely voluntary.

A driver who is pulled over can decline to take field sobriety tests, but he or she should be prepared to be arrested at that point if he or she does decline to take them. On the other hand, if the officer is asking the driver to do FSTs, they officer is probably going to make a DUI arrest regardless of how the driver performs.

Understanding Implied Consent

Under Washington State’s rule of implied consent, the driver has already consented to taking a breath or blood test by getting behind the wheel. Therefore, refusing to take a breath or blood test could result in severe consequences.

It is generally recommended that the driver take the breath test on the machine located at the police station.

If the driver refuses to take this test, he or she could end up losing his or her driver’s license for at least a year. If the driver blows at a level above the state minimum, it is recommended that a DUI attorney be hired who can help dispute the results of this test or can at least minimize the consequences of them.

Requesting an Independent Test

The driver also has the right to request an independent test of his or her blood-alcohol concentration, which often is a blood draw taken at the hospital.

Blood tests tend to have more accurate results, and if the driver believes the blood test will show that he or she is below the 0.08 minimum, the DUI attorney can help use this to dispute a police breath test result above a 0.08.

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Posted in DUI
Man with Substance Abuse Issues at Bar

Deferred Prosecution in Washington DUI Cases

One of the main worries of individuals who are facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge is the effect the charge will have on that driver’s long-term record.

These worries can happen if this is the driver’s first DUI charge, but even more so if the driver is suffering from the disease of alcoholism. Many times, in fact, if the person who was arrested for the DUI is an alcoholic, the normal criminal charges are not considered “enough” in terms of treating the actual disease and ensuring that no future violations happen.

This is where the concept of “deferred prosecution” comes into play.

What Is Deferred Prosecution?

Deferred prosecution is a legal option available for defendants who believe that alcohol abuse or a related disease is the cause for the criminal violation. Deferred prosecution involves an agreement the defendant enters into with the court whereby he or she agrees to complete a drug and alcohol treatment program, along with other strict requirements, to avoid a DUI conviction.

The option of deferred prosecution is only available for individuals who believe that alcoholism, drug addiction or a mental health illness has caused the behavior that led to the initial arrest.

If a defendant seeks this option, he or she is placed under oath and must allege that the criminal conduct for which he or she is being charged is “the result of or caused by substance use disorders or mental problems for which the person is in need of treatment and unless treated the probability of future recurrence is great.” RCW 10.05.020.

The defendant must also agree to pay the cost of diagnosis and treatment if he or she is financially able to afford these costs.

Conditions Associated with Deferred Prosecution

Deferred prosecution is not something to be entered into lightly. It is a program that requires strict compliance with a number of conditions, including the following:

  • The defendant shall not operate a motor vehicle on public highways without both a valid driver’s license and proof of liability insurance, the amount of which will be established by the court;
  • The court shall also order the installation of an ignition interlock device on any vehicle driven by the defendant;
  • The court may also order that the defendant make restitution and pay costs associated with the criminal charges;
  • Normally, the court will order that the defendant attend drug and/or alcohol abuse treatment, attend self-help support groups for alcoholism or drugs, as well as random drug screening to ensure that the defendant is no longer using.

Deferred prosecution programs normally last for two-years. The court may terminate the program upon violation of any of the conditions of the deferred prosecution order. Deferred prosecution is a once in a lifetime type of program, meaning that it cannot be offered a second time. If the defendant fails to meet any of the conditions of the order, he or she will face the original DUI charges.

The case will be dismissed no sooner than three years after successful completion of the treatment program but no less than five years after the defendant entered the deferred prosecution with the court.

This dismissal will keep the DUI from appearing on the defendant’s criminal record as a conviction. Many courts will require that the individual continue to attend at least two self-help meetings weekly for the full five-year duration, but not all require this.

Why Is Deferred Prosecution Important?

If someone is truly suffering from the disease of alcoholism, the odds of that person relapsing at least more than once is high, especially if the person is never treated. Alcoholism is a disease that is never considered “cured,” but the person who considers themselves cured of the disease is actually in recovery.

For these individuals, simply going to jail is not always a helpful option when, in fact, treatment would work much better in terms of fixing the original cause for why the offense happened.

However, the consequences of not successfully completing the program should be discussed at length with the defendant’s criminal attorney before any agreement is made to enter into a deferred prosecution. If the defendant truly believes that he or she can be successful in the program and not face further consequences down the road should the program not be successful, it could be a viable option to at least be considered.

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If you’ve been detained or arrested, the experienced defense attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates can help. Call today to schedule your free consultation, 855-712-7371. Ask about our military discount and convenient payment plans.

Posted in DUI
Drunk Driving Arrest

Common Defenses for DUIs in the State of Washington

Many individuals who have been arrested for a driving under the influence (DUI) in Washington fear that they have no other options.

However, several defenses do exist to help someone facing a DUI charge. These defenses can reduce the charges or even could throw them out altogether.

Below are some of the more common defenses for a DUI offense.

Accumulating Evidence

As soon as someone is pulled over for a possible DUI, law enforcement will begin to accumulate both physical and visual evidence to support the case. This evidence can include the defendant’s behavior and physical appearance, as well as testimony from witnesses and police reports.

In addition, the evidence normally includes at least one or more of the following: field sobriety test results, breath test results or blood test results.

While this evidence can help prove the case, this evidence can help dispute the case, as well.

Lack of Reasonable Suspicion to Stop

One of the first questions a defense attorney will ask is why the police would want to stop the defendant. Generally, a police officer has a pretty low burden of proof when making the decision to pull someone over.

However, certain challenges can be brought to question why the officer pulled the person over. Certain behavior can raise a red flag for intoxicated driving such as speeding, having a headlight or tail light out, not using headlights at night, driving too fast or too slowly or swerving.

However, if the defendant happened to do something that was not illegal but was still pulled over and then failed a field sobriety test, it is possible for the attorney to question the circumstances surrounding being pulled over.

Unlawful Detention

Another question comes up when the officer did not have a legitimate reason for detaining the driver instead of citing him or her for an offense and letting the driver leave. If the violation was something that required a simple citation and nothing more, the detention and keeping the driver there can be challenged. This challenge could be exceptionally strong if the officer did not observe any behavior or indication of the driver being intoxicated.

Many courts have considered it a violation if the initial officer asks for a DUI officer to come and forces the person to stay there for an unreasonable amount of time, especially if no reason exists for suspicion that the driver was intoxicated.

Lack of Probable Cause for Arrest

Another challenge can be brought if the officer did not have probable cause for the arrest. A defense attorney may review the Field Sobriety Test (FST), if one was given, as well as any other factors or behaviors that were observed at the time of the arrest.

If the officer is not able to articulate a reason for the arrest or the facts he or she used to make the arrest were not significant enough to satisfy the probable cause burden, this defense could end up being successful.

Lack of Admissibility of the Breath Test

Washington law enforcement utilize the BAC Datamaster or Datamaster CDM machines and the new Draeger Alcotest 9510 to test a driver’s breath.

If the officer did not follow protocol when administering the test, or if the driver had anything in his or her mouth such as fingers, vomit, water, etc., the test results could be contaminated. Further, if the driver requested to speak with an attorney before taking a breath test, or if the officer denied the driver access, the results could also be ruled inadmissible.

No Warrant to Draw Blood

If the evidence relies heavily on a blood draw done of the defendant, an additional defense can be the admissibility of the blood draw.

A warrant is needed in most situations for a blood draw to be admissible, unless the defendant gave informed consent for the draw. A defense counsel will want to review the warrant itself, ensure that the driver was given a copy of the warrant and a receipt of the blood draw taking place.

Additionally, the defense attorney will want to see if a proper chain of custody occurred with respect to the blood draw, as well as whether proper protocol was followed by the medical personnel who took the defendant’s blood.

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Posted in DUI
Woman Blowing Into Breathalyzer

What to Know About Ignition Interlock Devices in Washington

An ignition interlock device allows the driver to continue to use his or her car but also ensures that the driver is not operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol.

These devices allow the driver to continue driving during any Washington license suspension period.

This can be especially helpful for individuals who need to drive during this period of time for their job.

What Is an Ignition Interlock Device?

An Ignition Interlock Device (IID) is an instrument that a driver has to blow into before the vehicle can start. The device measures the driver’s blood alcohol content (BAC). It must be at a level below .025 for the car to start.

An IID must be installed by someone certified by the Washington State Patrol, and once installed, the installer will need to submit proof of installation to the state. A list of approved installers can be found at: www.wsp.wa.gov/driver/duiimpaired-driving/ignition-interlock/.

The driver needs to submit proof of the ignition interlock device and proof of SR-22 insurance. Once all of this has been submitted and the Washington DOL has approved the ignition interlock license (IIL) application, the driver can operate the vehicle at any time so long as the car is equipped with an IID

Who Is Required to Install an IID?

Defendants who have been convicted for an alcohol or drug-related DUI or Physical Control of a Motor Vehicle are required to install an IID. Previously, an IID was not mandatory, but it has now been made a mandatory requirement. The same would go for some convictions involving reckless driving or negligent driving. Courts additionally have discretion to order IIDs to be installed, depending on the crime involved.

An IID will be required to be installed in any vehicle the defendant drives. If the defendant has to drive an employer-owned vehicle during the work day, he or she can submit an Employer Declaration for Ignition Interlock Exemption to avoid getting the IID installed in the car. However, if the employer’s vehicle is only assigned to the defendant for commuting to and from work, the IID will still need to be installed on the car.

How Long Does the IID Need to Be Installed?

How long an IID needs to be installed depends on the offense committed.

If the conviction is for reckless driving, the IID normally needs to be installed for at least six months. If the conviction was for negligent driving, the IID also needs to be installed for a period of at least six months. If the defendant was convicted of a DUI offense or physical control over a motor vehicle, the length of time the IID needs to be installed depends on how many prior offenses have been committed.

If it is the defendant’s first offense, the IID must be installed for at least one year. For the second offense, the term can be at least five years. For any subsequent offenses, the defendant must have the device installed for at least ten years.

Certificate of Compliance

Once the defendant has completed the required IID time period, a certificate of compliance will be submitted to the court. The certificate will normally come directly from the IID vendor. However, if the driver violates any of the provisions of the IID, the compliance period will restart.

Violating the IID requirement is essentially considered a probation violation, which could mean jail time for the defendant. Most courts will also consider a violation as a completely separate offense, resulting in an additional criminal charge.

How Much Does an IID Cost?

The defendant will be responsible for paying for all costs associated with an IID, including the cost of installing, leasing and removing the device, costs of maintaining proof of financial responsibility or the insurance certificate, the non-refundable ignition interlock license application, and the monthly IID Revolving Account fee that is created to help drivers who have low income and cannot afford to pay the costs of the device.

If the driver cannot pay for the costs of the IID, this inability to afford the device can put him or her in a difficult position, especially if the driver needs to get to and from work.

Washington does offer assistance for low-income drivers during this time period. It requires an application from the defendant, and if the application is approved, the program will reimburse the provider $80 per month for services including installation, the monthly lease fee, the cost of removing the device, and the costs associated with transferring the device to another vehicle, if needed.

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Posted in DUI

Sentencing Enhancements for DUI Convictions

Washington State courts generally follow a sentencing grid when making determinations on how much jail time someone will serve if convicted of a driving under the influence (DUI) charge.

For the most part, courts follow these guidelines closely, but certain factors can play into whether a sentence is increased or decreased, otherwise known as sentencing enhancements.

What Are Sentencing Enhancements?

In the State of Washington, sentence enhancements are used to adjust the sentence given to a defendant in a criminal case.

Sentence enhancements are facts or circumstances in the crime that can make it seem worse or more dangerous, which will allow a judge to increase the sentence being issued.

For a DUI offense, these factors can include prior conviction, high blood alcohol concentration of the defendant, the presence of minors during the incident, or injuries or death resulting from the incident.

Prior Conviction

One of the biggest factors leading up to an increase in a sentence is if the person has prior convictions for a DUI or DUI-related offense on his or her record.

For every prior DUI conviction, the penalty goes up, essentially meaning the amount of time in jail increases based on the number of offenses, as well as the degree of offenses.

In Washington, if an offender has more than four misdemeanor offenses over a period of ten years and then is arrested again for a DUI, that person’s next offense will be considered a felony offense. This qualification happens regardless of how low the driver’s blood alcohol content may be.

High Blood-Alcohol Concentration

The State of Washington increases the penalties given to DUI offenders who have what is known as “enhanced blood-alcohol concentration.” An enhanced BAC level normally refers to a blood alcohol concentration of 0.15% or greater, which is almost twice the legal limit of 0.08%.

For a DUI conviction with a BAC greater than 0.15%, the defendant must serve a minimum of 48 hours, but no more than 364 days in jail. However, if the offender has an enhanced BAC, he or she will be given a minimum of $1,000 fine and one to two years of driver’s license suspension, as well as the ignition interlock penalty and up to five years of probation.

The purpose of this stricter sentence is to deter the defendant from committing the offense again and to protect the safety of those on the road.

Presence of Passengers or Minors

An additional consideration that prosecutors take into account is the presence of other passengers or minors.

If another person was in the car while the driver was operating the vehicle while under the influence, the prosecutor can add a reckless endangerment charge. The judge may view the driver as being reckless in endangering the safety of others in the car.

A court will look even less favorably on the actions of the intoxicated driver if children were in the car.

Compliance with the Arresting Officer

The driver’s behavior at the time of the arrest may affect the sentence, as well. For instance, if the driver refused to take the breath test at the station, the court will consider this behavior in determining whether a sentence enhancement is needed.

If the driver accosted the arresting officer or deliberately tried to evade an arrest, the court may use this to enhance the sentence also.

Injuries or Death Resulting from Incident

Another serious issue that could result in the court issuing a harsher sentence is whether any bodily injuries or death resulted from the driver’s operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Not only will this result in very serious felony charges, but the sentence often requires time in prison.

Courts view drunk drivers as a risk to the community and often levy sentences to ensure that 1) the driver does not get behind the wheel again and 2) the driver remains incarcerated to protect the safety of others on the road or in the community.

Any drunk driving incident resulting in injuries or death to others will almost always guarantee that the DUI will be charged as a felony. If injuries or death have resulted, it is also highly recommended that the defendant hire an attorney to help him or her in the matter.

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Posted in DUI

Do I Need an Attorney to Defend My DUI?

If someone is facing a driving under the influence (DUI) charge, he or she may be overwhelmed and not sure what to do or what to expect. The defendant may be unsure of whether an attorney is needed or whether he or she can handle the matter alone.

When is it best to seek the assistance of legal counsel if facing a DUI?

Reasons to Hire an Attorney

Many reasons exist for why it is important to hire an attorney to assist in defending a DUI charge. Some of the most prominent reasons are:

  • Attorneys know the law, rules of evidence, and local court rules.
  • An attorney has spent a great deal of time and money on obtaining a legal education and maintaining his or her license, and it is for good reason that attorneys are brought in to help on a case.
  • The attorney will know the appropriate defense techniques. Defending a DUI is much more than saying that the person was not impaired by alcohol.
  • The attorney will know how to review the police report to ensure that the determination that the person was intoxicated was made appropriately.
  • The attorney will also be better able to argue in favor of the defendant than a layperson could.
  • An attorney will know what facts and circumstances lead to a good plea bargain, when a case is worth fighting in trial and when it is not.

Requesting a Public Defender Versus Hiring a Private Attorney

Criminal defendants have the right to an attorney. If someone cannot afford to hire an attorney, the court will appoint a public defender for that person.

Public defenders are attorneys hired by the county and are assigned to criminal cases where the defendants cannot afford an attorney.

Keep in mind that they are likely to be very familiar with the court itself, the prosecutors and attorneys on the other side and the DUI criminal laws. They are also likely to be skilled in taking cases to trial in the event plea bargaining is not successful.

One matter to be kept in mind, however, is the State of Washington has two separate proceedings for someone arrested with a DUI. The criminal proceeding would be handled by the public defender, but what about the administrative hearing involving the driver’s license? Public defenders are not appointed for these matters, and the defendant will likely need to handle this alone.

Defendants are always welcome to hire a private DUI attorney, and this person can handle both the criminal and administrative portions of the hearing.

It can help having the same attorney handle both portions of the case. While hiring a private attorney comes with legal costs, it can help to have the attorney cover the case in its entirety.

Most attorneys will work on a retainer basis, and the costs will be more if the case goes to trial. Be sure to discuss fees with an attorney before hiring him or her.

Arranging a Consultation

It never hurts to at least get a recommendation and advice on how to proceed on the case. Because most defendants are not well-versed in DUI law, it can help to meet with an attorney to go over the specifics of the case and get an idea on what to expect.

Most DUI attorneys will give clients a free consultation. After that meeting, the client can decide how to proceed.

Going to Trial

If the defendant anticipates the case going to trial, it is always recommended that an attorney be retained.

Clients are always welcome to represent themselves, but they are held to the same standard by judges that other attorneys are. Judges are not allowed to give preferential treatment to self-represented litigants, and many times, judges have little patience for these types of cases.

The best rule of thumb is to hire an attorney for the best outcome.

Contact Us Today!

If you’ve been detained or arrested, the experienced defense attorneys at Durflinger Oliver & Associates can help. Call today to schedule your FREE consultation: (855) 712-7371. Ask about our military discount and convenient payment plans.

Posted in DUI

Slip and Fall

by California Injury Attorney Patrick Hogan

Slip and Fall LawyerIf you were injured in a slip and fall accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical expenses and damages associated with your injuries.

A slip and fall case comes about when a property owner or someone responsible for the  property is negligent in the maintenance, repair or general upkeep of the property. When you’ve been injured on someone else’s property in a slip and fall accident, it can be unclear who is responsible for your injuries and who should pay the medical expenses you’ve incurred.

While slip and fall accidents can appear to be harmless, in many cases they can be very injurious. In fact, slip and falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injury. Falls injure over one million people in the United States every year. A simple slip and fall accident can lead to expensive medical bills, time away from work and sometimes even death in the most severe cases.

Slip and Falls and the Law

If you or someone you care about has been injured in a slip and fall accident, it’s important to seek the assistance of an experienced slip and fall attorney. It takes skill and knowledge to know how to successfully prove the owner of the property was negligent. In order to build a strong case, your attorney must prove the following:

  • That the condition of the property where the accident happened was dangerous

  • The property owner knew or should have known about the condition of the property

  • That the owner of the property had a reasonable amount of time to repair the condition of the property

Common Causes of Slip and Fall Accidents

Wet floors come to mind when most people think of slip and fall accidents. While wet floors are a leading cause of slip and fall accidents, other things can cause these types of accidents including:

  • Abrupt changes in flooring characteristics

  • Hidden hazards such a hole in the ground

  • Uneven sidewalks

  • Ice-covered sidewalks

  • Poor lighting

  • Narrow stairways

  • Obstructions on flooring

It’s important for a victim of a slip and fall accident to contact a slip and fall accident attorney right away. The cause of the accident must be documented before the property owner has time to correct the hazard that resulted in the accident. Proof of the hazard and the victim’s resulting injuries are essential to winning a slip and fall lawsuit.

Types of Injuries That can Result from Slip and Falls

Victims of slip and fall accidents can suffer severe physical injuries which may include:

  • Broken and dislocated bones

  • Lacerations, contusions and abrasions

  • Amputations

  • Cosmetic disfigurement

  • Neck and spinal injuries

  • Traumatic head injuries and even,

  • Death

Hogan Injury specializes in slip and fall accidents. We have the experience and expertise needed to gather information necessary for building a strong case. A slip and fall accident can leave you without work, mounting medical expenses and an uncertain future. We work hard to help our slip and fall clients get the compensation they both need and deserve and we can do the same for you. We offer a No Fee Consultation service which means you don’t pay us a thing unless you win your case.

Washington Drug Forfeitures – RCW 69.50.505

civil drug forfeitureWashington State has some of the worst civil drug forfeiture laws in the country. The Government can take property it believes was part of a drug transaction. Once the government takes your property, you have the burden of proving that the property was legal acquired and unrelated to a drug crime. That’s right, you have to prove that you didn’t break the law. If you don’t prove your innocence, then you don’t get your property back.

This blog will discuss forfeitures and defenses. I’ll lay out the law by giving some examples of cases our firm is currently fighting.

Washington State Civil Drug Forfeiture Law

RCW 69.50.505 governs civil drug forfeitures. Under this law, State police agencies can seize money earned by selling drugs, as well as money intended to be used to engage in a drug transaction. The police then get to keep the majority of the money they take. Cops can also take cars and other property used to commit a crime or that makes it easier to commit a crime.

We currently represent a gentleman who was visiting a house when police arrived to search for a marijuana grow operation. Our middle aged client had a clean criminal history, and hadn’t broken any laws when he was arrested. The local police department still took his $900 claiming that it was related to the alleged marijuana grow. They also seized his phone and personal belongings.

Under RCW 69.50.505, the government may seize “proceeds” of drug dealing. The Police in the above case simply believed that since the older guy was around people who broke the law, the money he had in his pocket must have come from drug dealing. We now have the burden of proving that our client earned the money before he ever came to visit Washington State. That’s right, we have to prove that the police theft from our client was wrong. Sadly, this happens every single day as police seek to take as much money and property as possible. After all, they directly benefit from these seizures when they keep the cash and sell the items that they’ve taken.

Removing Civil Drug Forfeitures To District Court

You have to properly move a civil drug forfeiture to District Court, or the same police agency that originally took your money will decide whether police can keep your money. Wrap your head around that. The police take property and then decide whether they did it properly. Guess how often they admit that they were wrong. That’s right, cops second guessing themselves is rarer than the Mariners in a playoff game. Forfeiture victims who want to avoid this additional injustice need to get their cases away from the police and into a court with a judge.

The removal is relatively easy with a Petition to Remove and a Summons and Complaint that identifies the wrongfully forfeited property. Of course, you’ll also have to pay the Court’s filing fee and serve the police, and in our case the city mayor. You must file and serve your pleadings within 45 days of challenging the forfeiture.

Defenses to Civil Drug Forfeiture

Wining a civil drug forfeiture case is tough, but possible. Forfeiture attorneys generally attack these thefts both procedurally and factually. Procedurally, the rules are very strict, and even minor errors by police will result in the return of property.

Police must initially prove that seized money or property was illegally acquired, or would be used to commit a crime. This can be difficult for police to show. If cops fail, then they must return the seized property.

Unfortunately, if police make the initial showing of probable cause to believe the seized property is related to a crime, then the forfeiture victim has to show enough facts to prove that the property was legally obtained and wasn’t going to be used in a crime.

Police caught a recent client with a bunch of money while visiting friends here in Washington. Local police couldn’t believe the the client could have tens of thousands of dollars unless they were committing crimes. Fortunately, our client proved that the money was legal. We convinced a judge that simply having a lot of cash doesn’t make someone a criminal.

Property Forfeited

Police agencies can forfeit any type of property from cash to real estate. We most often see officers and agent seize cash, cars, trucks, boat’s, planes, motorcycles, and recreational vehicles. Less common are civil drug forfeitures of houses and real estate. A drug task force recently seized several homes and buildings following marijuana raids. At least one of the homeowners was unaware of the illegal activities going on in his house. That is a defense to forfeiture and he should get his house back.

Forfeiture victims have important rights, and a short time frame in which to act. We can help, but time is of the essence, so call Durflinger Oliver today, 253-683-4180.

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